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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

insects - 2

Continuing from back in September.

There is a beetle around this area that I have always called a June bug. Its wing coverings are a dull metallic green and I remember them from way back in my youth. We used to catch them, tie a long thread around a rear leg and fly them almost like one would a model plane – before the radio controlled ones came along. These beetles came by to feed on over-ripe figs and they lined up on them like small dull metallic green hogs at a feed trough.

In the process of “harvesting” some weeds in the garden area, I was reminded that my least favorite bug – other than the mosquito – is the stinkbug. What causes my great dislike for them is the fact that they lurk about in a productive area (my garden) and stick their snout in someone else’s business (my veggies) and if you mess with them they raise a stink. That reminds me of the way some people are – don’t know if these persons are imitating stinkbugs or the stinkbugs are acting like them.

There is always something to cause joy, even in the pulling of weeds and I took great pleasure in treading upon the portion of the stinkbug population that I shook out of the weeds. Several of the ones I enjoyed squishing hadn’t even grown into full adult stink-hood, but it mattered not, they had to go into stink oblivion. If I had not offed them, they would have produced more stinkers for next year.

It was pretty hot and as I sat in the shade, sipping water to cool down for a few minutes a very sad thing happened. Suddenly a bee made a tumbling crash landing on the sunny (and hot) part of the driveway. This seemed a bit odd, but then it made another effort at flight that only lasted about three feet and again it crashed. Tumbling on its back, it lay there pawing the air. I knew it was in trouble so I flicked it into the grass as gently as I could. Even in the grass it didn’t improve and the legs slowed in their movement and finally stopped.

This bee had worked tirelessly for and with its hive-mates for the whole year, but when it came time to die, it died alone. We as humans think it’s sad – and it is – when someone dies without family nearby, but in the truest physical sense, we all die alone. But if we have given our lives to Jesus, He meets us at death’s portal and for all eternity we will have the joy of togetherness that on this earth we could only dream about. ec

Monday, January 30, 2006

insects - 1

At this writing, it was toward the end of September and as usual it was still very warm. I am passing this along now to give you a reminder of the seasonal things we are missing at present – some good and some not so much so. As most yards are, my outdoor area was populated by large numbers of different varieties of insects. Some are beneficial in their actions, a few can be both good and bad but many are not good at all.

One particular one that I haven’t found any use for is the gnat, with the possible exception of adding a little flavor to the food eaten at outdoor affairs – I really miss them – not! Some of these little rascals bite and on occasion, as I am weeding the garden, one of the bad ones happens by to see what I taste like. These critters really sting, and one of the small joys of my day is when I happen to catch one before he makes his getaway and I smash and grind its irritating little body into tiny bits – never to bite anyone or anything again.

The window over the kitchen sink is the one from which I can view my entire garden and in the area that the zinnias were still blooming I saw a plethora of butterflies – these of several colors. It was a multicolored dance as they fluttered from flower to flower. Like sign language telling the awesomeness of God’s creations.

There were some darker ones, several of an orange color and a few yellows as well. They seemed to be having so much fun that a hummingbird happened by to check out the festivities. A group of three butterflies came fluttering across the driveway playing tag, or so it seemed to me. It was probably considerably more serious to them as it may have had something to do with a mating ritual.

There are several species of wasps and bees in evidence and they do a yeoman’s job of pollinating veggies and fruit bearing entities starting in the spring and all through the warm months. These stinger-bearing insects are not intent on harming anyone and will not unless it’s in self-defense. But it is a bit disconcerting to be working in the blueberries in spring and have them constantly buzzing around your head.

To be continued. ec

Sunday, January 29, 2006


The season was late summer of 1999 and we had not had any measurable rain most of the year. The pond adjoining the rear of our property – belonging to the in-laws – was at least six feet low. Sections of dirt and stumps were visible and dry that had not been so since the dam had been built. Whole generations of insects had lived and died, never knowing rain.

But the weather changed one morning and it was as if all of nature could sense that the “drought of ‘99” was nearing an end. The clouds slowly formed and anticipation of a long awaited and needed event started to build.

While looking very promising, these dark bringers of rain seemed to stand around with uncertainty – as though they had forgotten how to deliver their precious cargo to the earth. The thunder began to give rather loud instructions to these emissaries of moisture and as the lightning pointedly insisted, it slowly began to rain.

Watching as these first drops hit the powder-dry ground, they seemed to explode in small puffs of dust like tiny bombs in a miniature war. But the earth had yet to gather enough wetness to clear its thirsty throat when it suddenly all stopped. As though suddenly realizing they were at the wrong address, the clouds slunk away with the thunder murmuring apologies over their shoulders.

Several weeks later these billowy masses slipped shame-facedly back into the area and rained for most of a whole day as though trying to make amends for their earlier deficiencies.

Our whole world, but America in particular is in the middle of a drought of a different kind – a spiritual one. This country that was founded on principles from the Bible is drying up spiritually and its foundation is turning to dust. We as Christians need to be seeking a spiritual rain to descend on us again. We need to be like Psalms 63:1 : “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” God is still good and as we whole-heartedly pray, He will send the spiritual showers to bring real life back to our country again. ec

Saturday, January 28, 2006


The day of this writing, at least most of it, was spent with Dmitri, an individual that recently came to stay with us. In appearance he seems really hard and maybe a bit dangerous, but actually is pretty sharp and a real cut-up. The name Dmitri is Slavic for lover of the earth and he is true to his name.

Dmitri is my newly acquired landscaping axe and as is my custom with all digging tools, it had to have a name. This tool is a combo one that is a single blade axe with a sharpened mattock made on the upper rear of the axe head. This enables one to cut with the axe blade or to cut perpendicular to that with the mattock – as well as dig with this same side. This tool is ideal for cutting and/or digging up the scrub trees that populate the borders of our property.

Dmitri and I got quite a workout in one of the aforementioned areas with still only a small portion of the area cleaned out. He seemed to hold up much better than I do, since I had to go in for water and he didn’t get thirsty at all. His fiberglass handle was a good touch, since some of us will occasionally over swing and splinter a wooden one.

The other digging tools seem to be taking this new acquisition in stride, except Betsy, the pick, is taking it pretty hard. The reason is that Dmitri is now doing the main job that she used to do. Frank the sharpshooter, ever the philosopher, tried to console her. He told her “We seldom think of what we have, but always think of what we miss.” But this didn’t seem to help, so he added “Don’t cry because it’s over now, laugh because it happened.”

Betsy will get over it because I still have plenty of work for her. Frank has problems of his own because he has a bad handle and can hardly work at all – hopefully his handle can be fixed or replaced. Bertha the shovel has no use for any sentimental drivel and is looking forward to the next time she can toss the dirt – she’s a gritty one. Ernest the trenching shovel is a specialist and doesn’t care whether he is working or not.

Rufus, the post-hole digger, knows that nobody else can do exactly what he does – his actions can be very deep. At times he even acts a bit “holier than thou”. Chopper, the garden hoe, has been with the family for about 35 years and has known for the last several that he has a partial fracture of the blade. He has hung in there very well until last summer when he was called on to dispatch a shoulder-less vertebrate. The incident almost completed the fracture and has necessitated either a new tool or a weld job on Chopper’s blade. Either of these will be traumatic for him - and me.

In addition to the scrub trees, many brambles still need to be dug up in the garden area. I say dug up because if one doesn’t get out the entire root, it just sprouts right back in next growing season. Some of these roots are ten to twelve inches deep. The garden is mostly cleared of these invaders of the soil except for one end of one of the beds still containing some brambles and winter hardy weeds – can anyone spell dandelion. This has to be completed before spring and planting season because with them there, the garden will be much less productive.

That reminds me of a question – am I allowing the thorny cares of my life and the weedy material things to choke out the fruitfulness of my spiritual garden? Our Master Gardner is able to keep our spiritual garden cleaned out, if that is what we desire and ask. He will also prune us to make us more fruitful – if we allow Him.

Friday, January 27, 2006


The kitchen is a very fascinating room of the house, mostly because it’s where all the food is located. Not being a total stranger to the workings of the appliances located in that area, I can put together some basic meals and/or meal items. My forte is the old style classic breakfast of grits, eggs, bacon, etc. With other meals, I am a helper, the wife tells me what to do and how much to put in and I do it.

Recalling old memories, my Dad was somewhat of a cook and had several specialties that he mostly prepared on Saturdays and/or when Mom was working outside the home. His cooking usually centered around chili and many variations of vegetable soup, dependant upon what was available in the frig, and was usually a bit heavy on the pepper. There were a couple of items that only he made for the family. One was chop suey, mostly of the chicken type, and the other I remember was his chicken dressing. Mom didn’t even make this latter item because Dad’s was so good.

Since my retirement, I have become more interested in trying out some recipes and have done that to a limited degree. One of my latest is for chicken chow mien, without the chow mien noodles, so really I’m not sure what to call it – maybe chicken chow rice. Anyway, it is from a recipe I found on the Internet, modified to suit my taste. The first time I tried it, the results turned out to be edible, but not great – even though served on rice. The second time was a bit better but still not great – I think I cooked my Chinese veggies too long.

After that I developed a yen (probably from the Chinese food) for chili. Finding recipes in two different books, I blended the two according to my taste and proceeded in the direction of being a chili creator. Recently and during this process as well, I have learned a couple of odd things about kitchen stuff. One thing is that a person cannot take a toast pan out of a hot oven without an oven mitt or equivalent.

The biggest lesson learned though was when I was exiting the pantry with a container of dried beans. My wife informed me – “you know you have to cook those before you put them in chili”. I was grateful for the information, but a tiny bit chagrinned that she felt it was necessary. :)

The beans were slow cooked for the evening and then continued cooking next morning. It was important to me to have the beans cooked well enough that they were mostly bean gravy – still identifiable as beans, but very, very well cooked. The meat was browned with the onions and spices and refrigerated overnight. The morning brought a visit to the grocery for a bell pepper and other items. Then the green pepper, the beans and the meat with spices were put together and allowed to simmer and blend their tantalizing flavors together.

The finished product became my midday meal and though it might be deemed a bit bland for most chili aficionados, it was mostly wonderful to me. One of the basic needs of mankind is to create - and I created, even if it was just a food product. I find nothing unmanly about being able to create in the kitchen – that way I won’t starve if the wife has to be away. Now I just need to learn how to clean up the place when I’m through.

No matter how many great ingredients we have in our lives, it is still a recipe for disaster if we leave God out – this is true for Christians as well, since we need Him every moment. ec

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Collecting odd or seldom used words seems to be a hobby within a hobby. A related sub-hobby would be to try to bring some of these lonely, mostly forgotten words back to everyday usage. The hobby overall is etymology, and since one can claim any hobby without a necessary seriousness to the devotion thereof – or expertise in said hobby – such is my claim.

In everyday reading, I'm always alert for words outside of my normal usages. Once while reading a Pittsburgh newspaper, I tripped over the word "detritus", and upon discovering it meant any accumulation of disintegrated material or debris, I felt this could be in one way a bit descriptive of my hobby within the hobby. Also sounds like the condition of my shop down in the basement.

On another occasion, while tripping the light verbalistic, I stumbled upon "nescience" - lack of knowledge or awareness, ignorance - and felt this might also describe some of my grappling with the language. Then there is ignoratio elenchi, which is a fallacy in logic of offering proof irrelevant to the proposition in question and that sounded vaguely similar to some of my writings.

A word that is seldom used in our permissive society any more is ignominy, meaning personal disgrace, dishonor and/or shameful or dishonorable quality or conduct. The word may not be used a lot but it still seems to be the claim to fame of many in the entertainment industries – nuff said.

The word sclaff had never come before my eyes before it was accidentally discovered, as per usual, while on my way to another word and there it was in all its meaningful glory. Every golfer has sclaffed, at least a few times, since it means to scrape the ground with the head of the club during the swing and just before impact with the ball. This had always just been hitting the ground just before hitting the ball, now I’ll try to remember what to call it, if I ever play golf again.

Then, another day and another time, the word "cruciverbalist" came into my areas of cognition. Of course the meaning is - a crossword designer or enthusiast – to the latter of these I lay somewhat of a claim. But looking closer at the root words, one could construe – or misconstrue, in my case – this word to mean a person who spoke often and a lot about the cross, which seems to slightly fit me as well. But even more than the formation on which death took place, I speak often of the Christ who loved me - and humankind - enough to die on that killing instrument. God is good – all the time! ec

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

shopping - 3


Then I brought my mind and self back to our real life “Mall Adventure” and gummi bear consumption. At first I would toss a small clump of the delightful little morsels into my mouth, allowing my taste buds to enjoy the symphony – or was it a cacophony – of contrasting flavors. Then as the bear population dwindled I would munch down on two of the same color, then just before bear extinction, I would chew on single bears, savoring them as long as possible. This was to try to get the flavor to take me to another place and time – but it didn’t work.

Then the thing that I had greatly feared came upon me, the “Mall Adventure” was not over and I had run out of gummi bears! All I knew to do then was to sigh, not just a light sigh of inconvenience; these were the heavy theatrical kind that meant I was nearing panic-city. Would you believe they were totally ignored?

My only back-up plan was to whine – but maybe it wasn’t really whining, just explaining my needs in a very sane, rational way – OK, it was whining. I knew that it was a horrible thing to do, but I was desperate. I explained that my feet hurt, which was true and I told her that my body doesn’t have a meander gear. I had tried to sidle but that wasn’t her speed, I even moseyed a little but that wasn’t right either. I was just stuck because even a saunter didn’t match her pace. I was made to run, or walk fast, or cavort through fields of newly mown hay but it was too painful to meander and do the other slow speeds. Plus there were no fields of newly mown hay – it was winter!

Finally my wife either had mercy on me or she got tired of all the whining and consented to leave – she may have been tired of fighting the crowd as well. Now I still feel that as an experience, shopping at the mall ranks somewhere between having an appendectomy and getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick – but I think I’m a better man for having gone thru it – maybe.

Good and bad happens to all of us; it’s just that the genuine Christian has a Friend to be with them through it all – and yes, even during a Mall Experience, if you are not too panicked to call on Him. ec

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

shopping - 2

My somewhat tongue in cheek soliloquy continues.

The “Mall Experience” that really took the cake, cooked my goose, upset the apple cart and slammed the auto of good intentions into the large tree of bad experience, happened several years back. This was before I retired and I was on vacation the week after Christmas. Blinded by the love I had for my wife and a bad memory, I foolishly suggested taking her on her favorite excursion, a visit to THE MALL!!

If any day could be worse than any other day to go to the mall, the worst possible day would be December 26th, but that is when we went. As we approached the parking lot, it was as if one could sense a dark ominous cloud of complaint and discontent hanging over the whole area as hundreds and maybe thousands of miserable souls were returning or exchanging gifts because of defects, wrong color or improper size.

As I parked the car I knew I had made a grave error in judgment about the place I had consented to come and the time we had arrived. My mind desperately fought the rising panic and I cast my eyes and mental faculties around the inside of our Honda to find some wellspring of strength to bolster my sagging confidence.

Times such as that can bring many questions to one’s consciousness – If I get separated from my wife, can I find my way back out? -Or- Could I even find a place to pray inside the mall? In my desperation I realized I was clutching in my sweaty hands about a half of a large bag of gummi bears, squishy confections of little multi-colored and flavored animal shapes. Small comfort though they were, going on their strength, I managed to get myself out of the car and inside the mall.

Meekly I followed the one I had chosen and vowed to love – all through the endless rows of hanging clothes and displayed merchandise – ever vigilant lest we become separated (we didn’t have cell phones back then).

Between glances at the spouse I read the ingredients contained in the little gummi bears in the bag. These were fairly acceptable with one exception – among the artificial colors was one that stood out – “Red 40”. Even that was not enough to keep me from nervously consuming the only source of comfort I had, but later the questions came.

What about the other 39 Reds, did they kill an unacceptable amount of people? – Cause mental problems? – Create an addiction to the stuff? – Cause people to write crazy things? At the very least, they created more questions than answers. And questions are much harder to answer than answers, unless the answers are disguised questions and meant for those that are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”. ec

To be continued.

Monday, January 23, 2006

shopping - 1

Let me say right at the beginning of this soliloquy that I do not like to ‘shop’ – it is a four-letter word and like all the other bad four-letter words, it is something that should not be talked about, mentioned, or even suggested. But in the case of this word ‘shop’ I must put my thoughts, feelings, and yes, even fears, down in some sort of missive in an effort to purge them from my system.

If one defines the word ‘shop’, the meaning that emerges is: (1)- (a) to examine goods or services with intent to buy (b) to probe the market in search of the best buy. These seem rather innocent, but there is another, more ominous meaning: (2)- to make a search.

But even this last meaning is incomplete unless combined with the word ‘meander’ – definition: To wander aimlessly or casually without urgent destination. Then ‘shop’ joined with ‘meander’ means to wander through the ENTIRE area of consideration, examining or at least touching EVERY item on display.

This combined meaning, as foreboding and foreshadowing of evil as it is – is still incomplete without a place to do the aforementioned activity. This intimidating place is the MALL – mall is another four-letter word that probably shouldn’t be talked about, but I find it necessary for this venting of emotions.

My opinion is that the word mall is misspelled in this application and should be spelled maul – meaning: to be clawed, bitten and dragged around by an extremity in a stone cavern by a large predator. These two words sound the same and have somewhat the same meaning – you can probably figure out what I mean.

Having described the activity, the method by which it is done and the place in which it is carried out in this manner, is it any wonder that my horror of going through such an experience is only exceeded by my dread of one day – in the future – having to do it again.

There are several other things that evoke feelings of angst such as this but my death is not among them – that because I know that I know that I know that I have a Friend waiting for me on the other side of this life. ec

To be continued.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Life don’t happen just like it’s planned
And can come apart like a rubber band
Ever’ thang can’t be anticipated
And our problems seem to be exacerbated
But the very ones trying to advise –
They seem to add to our demise
Consider then – what does motivate
The advice we hear, is it love or hate
Ever’ problem has an answer – that’s a fact
If you know where to go, and how to act
Satan just wants your soul to freeze
But that’s when we have to get on our knees
We don’t need a lot of consternation
And can live a life of anticipation
‘cause you can’t name or number all He’ll do for you
If you believe His Word and to Him be true. ec

PS – satan’s soul-freezing desire thing is somewhat correct while we are alive – after death, it changes temperatures dramatically.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

instant pudding - 2

Most seriousness still aside I continue the pudding “rant”.

G-Caramel color, artificial color (includes yellow #5) – I just don’t like artificial color, I like things the color they are supposed to be. This brings the question to mind – what color was it before? If it was barf brown or slime green, then I guess I can understand them adding the color. Another question – why yellow #5? What happened to 1 through 4? I guess #5 killed fewer people during testing than the others but I would hate to be the guinea pig that causes #6 to be created.

H-Non-fat milk – In the light of the other fattening things found in the pudding, non-fat milk has to be only a token ingredient and to my way of thinking, it’s just too little, too late.

I-Natural and artificial flavors – One would have to say that natural and artificial are opposites and since opposites attract, I guess this is the pudding company’s way of trying to smooth over the controversy.

Another area of dislikes is in #2-Packaging and labeling.

A-The picture on the package – This shows pudding in a clear glass dessert dish. Absolutely nobody at my reading level eats pudding out of glass dishes – it’s always Tupperware! I’m amazed that they haven’t been taken to task about that because it’s so unreal. I feel they have isolated themselves from the general pudding eating population and possibly don’t even know that there is such a thing as Tupperware.

B-Labeling – Why would the package state that calories have been reduced in the contents? A person could reduce their calories even further by not eating the stuff at all. But what is wrong with good, honest, genuine calories? At least you wouldn’t have to worry about getting weird or artificial fat, you could have the real thing.

Last category – #3-Consistency – The pudding is just too smooth, and creamy, and perfect – with no lumps at all. Yet the lumps are the very things that give character to a pudding – along with a spirit of adventure. One can venture from lump to lump in homemade pudding, never knowing what delight their taste buds will find when they arrive. This also offers an air of expectancy, hardly being able to wait until the next lump is tasted.

Think also of the romance that would charge the air as you and your sweetheart spoke tenderly about the contents of each lump of pudding you ate. Can the instant puddings offer you these things? No – and a thousand times no – maybe this missive will be the thing that would start folks back to their homemade pudding roots. The start back may be slow at first but in my mind I can see hundreds, even thousands coming back to their lumpy heritage.

I want to leave a heritage or legacy for my daughters and grandchildren that I was a man that believed in God and His Word – and lived my life accordingly, is there a better one? ec

Friday, January 20, 2006

instant pudding - 1

All seriousness aside, I’m going to tell you why I don’t like J---o instant pudding or any other instant brand. There are many reasons, so I have put them together in loose categories and will comment on each as I go along. The first and largest group of dislikes has to do with the ingredients. These particular ones were listed on a butterscotch pudding box. As you probably know, ingredients are listed in order according to the amount of that substance contained in the product.

#1-Ingredients: A- Sugar and dextrose – Sugar is something sweet that can cause a person to be fat. Dextrose is something sweet that can cause a person to be fat. The question comes to mind – why use two somethings sweet that can cause fatness when it would be simpler to use one something sweet in greater amounts? Maybe they think only little kids eat the stuff and won’t realize they are getting double sweeted.

B-Modified Tapioca starch – why would they want to modify Tapioca starch? Is the process painful to the starch? What if the starch doesn’t want to be modified? Will this keep the starch from reproducing? As you can see this ingredient raises more questions than it answers and I don’t care for that.

C-Sodium phosphates – not knowing exactly what this was, I looked it up. Sodium is a silver white soft waxy ductile element of the alkali metal group that occurs abundantly in combined form and is very active chemically – and metal, in pudding? Phosphate is an organic compound of phosphoric acid in which the acid unit is bound to nitrogen or a carboxyl group in a way that permits energy to be released.

What I get out of that was that something that is very active chemically is combined with something bound up so energy can be released. It sounds to me like they would explode if not properly mixed. If some terrorist organization got hold of this information, they would infiltrate the pudding industry, mix the sodium phosphates wrong and blow the faces off millions of little kids as they mix up their instant pudding. How dare they put dangerous stuff in their innocent looking pudding boxes!

D-Salt – when salt in large amounts is put into something sweet, it is either an accident or a cruel joke. So I wonder which it is? But it gets worse still.

E-Hydrogenated Soybean oil – Why would they want hydrogen in the soybean oil? But then I noticed that right after hydrogenate in the dictionary was listed hydrogen bomb and suddenly this too becomes a very explosive issue! And as if this wasn’t enough, this same soybean oil is preserved with BHA!! I have no idea what that is but why don’t they spell it out instead of using those letters? I probably couldn’t pronounce it, but at least I would have the comfort of knowing what it was – after I looked it up. They must be afraid folks won’t eat the stuff anymore if they knew what those letters meant!

F-Di and monoglycerides – I had to break the words down to get the real meaning. Glycerides are esters of glycerol especially with fatty acids. So, with mono meaning one and di meaning two, this is the old one-two punch to make very sure you get fat when you eat this pudding.

To be continued. ec

Thursday, January 19, 2006

toilet paper

The question hung in the air like a confused hummingbird trying to decide which of two flowers to visit next. Or maybe like a rabbit in the middle of hot pavement, not knowing which way to hop. Or possibly like a lioness trying to decide whether to have the gnu or the zebra for supper. Wait – I took that a little far in my exuberance, since the main subjects of those last two sentences can’t hang in the air – at least not for very long. But then the point of that whole series of sentences was the indecisiveness – I think.

The question is – which is the proper way to place toilet paper in the holder? The first method of installation is with the product coming off the roll over the top, toward the user. The second way is coming off the roll underneath and hanging next to the wall. There might be other ways, but these are the two I’ll deal with today.

This is a very serious issue in some households with positive adherents on both sides of the question. Many arguments have taken place and it’s possible that some relationships have ended over this very problem. Since opinions were strong on both sides, I determined to do a bit of research on the subject and found over 600,000 references to toilet paper on the web.

Even with all this, I found very little about roll installation preferences, so I abandoned the web and decided to turn to a survey of my siblings. Since there are six of us, and evenly split between guys and gals, I felt that this would maybe give some sort of clue whether these methods were influenced more by heredity or environment.

First was my eldest brother and he said in no uncertain terms that he was an “under” installer. He commented that this was the only way that made sense – since it is easier to tear in that position and thereby saves paper. Next eldest is a sister and she is an ambi-positioner with no particular leaning, it goes in the holder however it falls in her hand. She even tried turning the roll around and said it felt natural that way as well.

Number three child is a sister and she is definitely an “over the topper”, she said that it was just more convenient. My younger brother weighed in as an “over the top” positioner because it’s closer. Our youngest sibling, a sister, is also an “over the top” person, she said it was easier to find in the dark.

I am fourth in birth order and our household preference is “under” – my wife prefers this way because, among other reasons, it just looks neater. Another reason is because if there are small children or pets in the household, they tend to unroll the paper if is installed “over the top”. We have some small “grands” but we have no pets, except small, very hardy, fish but they’re not allowed to use our bathroom – or even get out of their tank.

It’s not a huge issue with me but I am a closet “over the top” kind of person. But I go along with the program to promote peaceful co-existence. We have two daughters and they are both “over the toppers” and even had their Mom question as to how that could have happened since they were raised in an “under” household. Whatever answer they gave was probably not sufficient and has been lost to time.

Our local granddaughter is a “converter” and when she stays with us, she will - on the sly - turn the roll around in the bathroom she uses. Her Granna has brought this action to her attention, but she says that she just wasn’t raised that way (to be an “under”). These “conversions” brings me to hilarious laughter when I think about it; this just has to be caused by some of the silly genes that she inherited from me.

So which is the proper way? Our sibling survey tends to lean slightly in the direction of “over the top” but on a given day we could be split down the middle – due to my oldest sister. If the problem becomes too big and you have two bathrooms, one could be an “under” and the other an “over the top”. So is the position of placement caused by heredity or environment? I lean toward heredity because no matter how long I have practiced being an “under”, the “over the top” genetic material has surfaced in both my daughters.

What the Bible calls “sin” is related to both heredity and environment; and to just call sin a “problem” is the understatement of eternity because it can cause us to be separated from God forever, which is quite a long time. But Jesus Christ has already solved this “problem”; it’s our choice whether we accept His solution. ec

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


It was a bright, nearly cloudless day and several dogs had chased the two deer for quite a while. The dogs sounded a good distance off and the deer were running at nearly top speed to put the finishing touches on a clean getaway. They came through an overgrown peach orchard with scrub trees all the way to the edge of road. As they dashed from behind the trees and went to cross the road, one flashed directly in front of the large BellSouth bucket truck and the other crashed directly into the driver’s door.

The badly wounded deer managed to drag itself out into an overgrown field and lie down to hide and try to recover from the horrific damage to its body. Later in the day, in the lonely field, its life came to an end. The animal had been in full strength and health but it was distracted by a distant danger and had collided with one near at hand.

The mockingbird had marked out its territory and its nest was nearby – this particular backyard was claimed as part of its home turf. The only problem was that the yard was also the area claimed by a medium-sized part poodle belonging to the masters of the property.

As mockingbirds will do, it became very agitated at the audacity of the dog crossing part of its space and started diving at the quadruped. By the third dive, the canine had had enough – it had been measuring the dives of the bird. As the bird dived, it did not see the tensing of the leg muscles and just at the very worst possible time for the bird, the dog sprang upward and ended the flight career and life of the irate bird. The flyer had been distracted by anger and misjudged the capabilities of the other creature.

The seagull was attracted to the small pieces of fish floating on the surface of the very large, man-made orca pool. It settled on the water’s surface and had just started eating its fish dinner when suddenly the huge killer whale came from below and made a light snack of the feathered swimmer.

What the gull didn’t know was that this was a trap set on purpose by the orca. The large mammal had somehow figured out that if it regurgitated a small amount of fish it would attract these scavengers and it would have a chance for a quick, between meals tidbit. The gull was so distracted by the promise of a few tasty morsels that it didn’t see the danger until it was too late and its life came to an end.

Many years ago there was a young man that at one time was a church attending, married man. He became distracted by others and the marriage came to an end. Though he came to church, his answer to any that would ask why he didn’t make a real commitment to God was a comparison of his life to others in the church. He was distracted because some were not living the way he thought they ought to.

He was a safe driver and always wore his seat belt, except for one time. On a late night trip he became tired and allowed someone else to drive. He released his seat belt to lay back and get a nap. They say the driver ran off the edge of the road, overcompensated and then left the road on the other side, he was thrown out of the vehicle and his own car ran over him - his life was ended. The difference in him and the animals was that he continued to live in a different form and if he didn’t take the opportunity to repent in the few minutes before he died, he will live forever separated from God.

Another young man was raised in church and was considered to be a “good boy”. He became distracted by a desire to find out exactly what was wrong with doing all the things he had been taught were wrong. His actions caused him to be separated from God for more than three years, but God’s love and mercy reached out to him and like the prodigal son of the Bible, his Father forgave him and took him back.

He is now old and on occasion still gets distracted, mostly by wasting time on things that are not bad in themselves, but become that if they cause him to not follow his Savior as closely as he should. He has an enemy that has distraction down to an art form, but his resident Savior is greater than any enemy and he can have victory through the power of God if he so chooses. This is the same power available to us all through Jesus Christ. ec

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


The day of this posting is our return home day - but the initial writing of this was done yesterday by paper and pen - unusual for me of late. Will be leaving Tennessee in time to get home about dark-thirty.

As you may or may not know, it doesn't take a lot to amuse me and I found great hilarity in listening to Older Daughter and the spice of my life discussing the workings and finer points of stain removal ability of the front-loading washing machine recently purchased by OD and SIL.

Then I checked out the instructions for the machine and found some interesting stuff like: - "Warning, you can be killed or seriously injured if you don't follow instructions". It was almost like there was a gun included in there somewhere - or maybe they would send the mafia around if you didn't obey.

That was pretty sobering, but then came the warning - "Do not allow children to play on or in the washer". Then the mental image that came to me was of some older kids babysitting and putting little bro in the washing machine when he had a really bad poopie diaper.

Under "Common Washing problems" was listed 'discoloration' - one of the possible causes was "incorrect sorting" - the preventive measure was 'sort items by color'. I know that sounds pretty basic but most of us have put the reds with the whites and come out with varying shades of pink at some point in our lives.

For the problem of 'holes, tears, or snags', the first possible cause on the list is 'incorrect use of chlorine bleach'. Solution - 'May be irreversible of rips, tears, and seams cannot be mended' - duh. Preventive measures - 'never pour chlorine bleach directly on fabric' - I still remember that little incident and I don't want to talk about it.

In the maintenance section of the instructions, the problem of 'machine does not start' is listed - first possible cause/solution - 'Electrical cord may not be plugged in' - that would definitely cause a problem.

A lack of power can also be a spiritual problem as well - scripture speaks of "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...". If God is our #1 priority, He supplies the power we need for living the kind of life we should. ec

Monday, January 16, 2006

storing memories

Sunday found me storing mental images and sound bytes. GM5 in his snowsuit on Saturday, hardly able to sit down or move his arms - reminding of the little brother in "A Christmas Story". Of making videos of GM2 and 5 - and OD - out in the snow of Sat.

GM5 pushing his walk-behind truck while explaining things in his own language. His language is aided and abetted by hand and arm signals. The basic hand-arm signal is to extend one arm, fingers spred in the direction of the object of his attention. This means one of several things - it is his hello or goodbye (like aloha) as well as his signal that he wants a particular thing.

When this signal is used as a greeting, it is almost like a monarch extending his kingly hand of mercy toward his loyal subjects. It is often accompanied by a small grunt which seems to be multi-dimensional in meaning in that it can indicate anything from a question to a show of satisfaction - depending on which part of the grunt is stressed.

When he wants something, the word "dis" or "iss" is added to the physical signal - and if he gets the object desired, one of these words is repeated.

GM2 is a very inventive young lady. Her project for the day on Sunday was making an oatmeal honey mask for the faces of OD, granna and her. It was chuckle and "Kodak moment" time when they called for the menfolk to view her handiwork pasted all over their faces. After the laughter and photos came the real job for them of trying to remove the sticky stuff - they mostly did - with great effort.

Both of OD's dachshunds give GM5 a fairly wide berth. It's not that they necessarily fear him, they just don't enjoy portions of their anatony being tugged.

OD has a kid/dog gate on the laundry room for the occasional keeping the dogs in when they are out and about or keeping GM5 out of this very interesting room. One last great mental image stored is one of GM5 giving his Mom a kiss through the bars of this gate.

Our Creator allows us to view and enjoy so many small everyday things - if we choose to - and by so doing bring more joy into our lives and to lessen the bad stuff. I'm reminded of a line from a song in the movie "The Sound of Music" - "I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad" - not that I feel bad that much anyway, I/you have a choice. ec

Sunday, January 15, 2006

grunt monkeys

All our "grand" ones are affectionally called grunt monkeys (GM) by their Pop-pop - me. Their title designation also indicates their order of birth - the first being GM1 all the way down to GM6. The spice of my life and I are still visiting in Tennessee for a few more days - this being the residence of GM2 and GM5.

The snow descibed in yesterday's posting is now a scraggily fading memory of what used to be. It wasn't ever a really proper snowman building type of snow in either consistency or amount but OD (older daughter) did get some "Kodak moments" - and it was SNOW!

GM2 had a basketball game in the morning (Sat.) and we allowed her Mom and Dad to see her play w/o GM5's interference . Granna and I sat with him as he continues his quest for upright mobility. He is 11 months old now and not far at all from bipedal locomotion.

Bouncing to another subject as I am sometimes prone to do - even though I'm seated at the moment - OD and SIL's dining table is somewhat different inasmuch as it is 36 inches tall (kitchen counter height) and 5 feet square with 8 chair backed stools - I really like the idea.

This area in which they reside is some kind of beautiful and even though my roots are pretty deep in S. C. soil, if I ever moved out of that state, the state of Tennessee would be one of my first choices. Our family lived just North of Chattanooga for about 1 1/2 years when I was much younger - circa 1948-49.

God created all types of terrain but for some reason rolling hills seem to suit me very well. ec

Saturday, January 14, 2006

seasonal wish

My seasonal wish has been fulfilled - even though it was not in the place that I had desired. My wish was for snow but where we found it was Tennessee. We made the semi-long trek (378 miles) from S. C. yesterday to visit the older of the two daughters and her clan. This took us the extra long time of about 8 hours.

What, you might ask, took about 1 1/2 hours longer than usual? The answer is a combo one: 1- We went through Hotlanta (Atlanta) at the ungodly time surrounding the hour of 4pm. 2- We went right through the heart of the city on the I-75/85 expressway. 3- A semi was broken down in the center of a 7-lane roadway. 4- Roads were still wet from a deluge just a few minutes before.

We finally escaped this jam only to happen upon another moving parking situation for about 20 more minutes - the reason for this one still remains unknown. We finally tired of the roller derby and got off the ride for a bite to eat.

By the time we got back to the roadway, darkness had fallen with a loud CLUNK - but maybe this noise was only between my ears. The trip was then complicated by the dark and off and on precip.

The last hour of the journey was through a combo area of mountains and plateaus. About half-way up the last mountain, the rain turned to the white stuff. This situation caused great concern in the mind of my spice for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that we didn't have have cell phone reception in that area.

We did make it safely to our daughter's house through the intermittent snow and when we crashed in our places of repose, we were still hearing the thud of the snowflakes as they hit the ground. :)

We awakened this morning to about an inch of the white stuff on the ground and the fulfillment of my seasonal wish. God is good, all the time - even in the creation of snowflakes. ec

Friday, January 13, 2006


It was back at the end of September when this story took place – during the last mowing of the season.

What is it about the word “rat” that makes me want to include the terms flea-bitten and filthy in the definition? It’s possibly because these rodents usually are part and parcel of both those conditions. You might get the idea that I don’t like rats and you would be exactly right in that assumption. I do not excessively fear them, any more than I would any other animal that can bite one’s finger to the bone.

It’s not that I totally object to them living on the planet, I just don’t want them living in close proximity to me. The problem is that if one has an unkempt area nearby, one does not have to invite these outdoor rodents, they just move into this small jungle on their own. Part of my yard – down the hill – doesn’t get mowed very often and it was an open invitation to anything needing shelter.

The time came for the mowing of the rough areas of my yard and I tried to remember if this exercise took place on an annual or semi-annual basis. Or was it biennial? Was this effort at remembering a stalling tactic? As I knew it would be, it turned into a slow and arduous task, with the tall grass and weeds threatening to choke the mower every moment. The spot was mowed in a counter clockwise direction so as to discharge the cut material away from the uncut and to help in keeping the mower relatively unclogged.

Starting on the outside of this somewhat square circle, the uncut growth in the center slowly got smaller and smaller. Suddenly a brown furry entity made a bounding get-away across the already cut strip of ground. It was fairly large for what it was, almost the size of a small squirrel but it got away so quickly that I didn’t have time to interview it to see how its life had been that year or to even to get its name.

It definitely was a field rat and I started noticing that as the overgrowth was cut away, it revealed many well-worn paths under the multitudinous plant growths. It almost seemed like a rat city – or maybe a small village – in which these critters could live safe and out of sight. One spot was lined with grass straw, identifying it as possibly their main residence. None of these things were evident until the grass, etc. was cut down.

This under-plant village must have had a storage area for food items kept for a midnight snack, but I never found a tiny TV or remote – must have been female rats. There was a fairly large bare area uncovered by the mowing that I was somewhat puzzled about. After consideration, my conclusion was that it had to be a dance floor. It was smooth and compacted with no roots or anything on which to stub their little paws as they were boogieing to all hours of the night.

The area of uncut plant material in the center of the square circle got smaller with each round and suddenly I saw another rat make a run for a hiding place elsewhere. It wasn’t having much success at this and kept ducking under the mat of cut grass. It was more than I could stand and I put my self-propelled walk-behind mower in top speed and went after the rat. Just as I would reach the small furry, it would bound away again to another semi-hiding place.

Finally it made a run all the way across the mowed area to a stand of trees. The mower and I reached this place of sanctuary just a foot or two behind it but it had escaped the sudden death playoff with the blades of the noisy machine. At least the rat and I got to have a little excitement in our lives, something the rat can squeak to its grand-rats about for months to come.

No matter how big a rat a person might be, they still have an appointment some day with another type mower – or should I say reaper. And after this they will be judged for all their deeds, ratty and otherwise. ec

Thursday, January 12, 2006


It occurred to me a while back that elbows are ugly. This is not something that I say lightly, but after much contemplation I have arrived at this conclusion. In fact I really don’t understand why some cosmetic company hasn’t taken on an elbow beautification project. Maybe some type of cream or something to take away the stark unattractiveness of the back side of this joint.

It is not when the arm is flexed that the elbow’s homely characteristics come into view but when it is straightened out. This action suddenly brings into view the bunched up humps and bumps of unsightly skin on the back of the arm that were not there before.

If you really think about it, all the high-class advertising done on TV and in magazines do not give you a good picture of unflexed elbows. Possibly they have become aware of this and will not admit it to the rest of the world. They probably have to do a lot of airbrushing of photos that accidentally depict this uncomely joint.

Even with all the care given to avoid showing the elbow, occasionally an image will still get through. One that I saw recently was in a catalogue and showed a medium-young couple walking along a narrow stretch of beach; she was just ahead of him and was reaching back, holding his hand. Normally this would be a rather romantic shot, but she had one of the ugliest elbows I have seen in a long time and it was in full view. It just killed the subtle nuances they were trying to create in my mind about whatever product they were trying to sell.

It does make me wonder if there may be some yet undiscovered tribe in a remote jungle - that has yet to be contacted by mankind - that have beautiful elbows. If that came to pass, we could do some serious elbow research to discover the genetic characteristic that causes this wonderful condition to exist. Then maybe we could synthesize the genetic material, put it in pill form and take it on a daily basis. Soon thereafter everyone would have beautiful elbows.

Until then we will just have to suffer through these awful sights and if it gets too bad, just turn our heads. Probably the reason most folks don’t realize the ill-favored-ness of this part of the body is that it is situated on the back of the arm and can only be fully viewed in the mirror. Hopefully this missive will not start a trend of carrying larger mirrors for the express purpose of self-elbow viewing.

A practical solution for this problem would be for everyone to start to wear long sleeves, even in summer. Another would be to wear elbow guards, with which you could hide the elbow as well as appear somewhat athletic. If this latter trend caught on, they could be made in all colors and combinations thereof, maybe even camouflage, for the “manly” among us.

Many are so caught up with how they look on the outside that they fail to do anything about some of the very ugly parts of us on the inside. A very big one of these is the attitude. Bad attitudes are sometimes not seen by the person that possesses one, even if they are quite obvious to everyone else.

A man by the name of Herm Albright once said: A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

While I do not ascribe to this method of coping, I did enjoy the thought processes involved. For us to change these inner unwanted things about us, we first have to be aware of them. It takes the mirror of God’s Word for us to even see inner unpleasant things, plus God is the only one that can really help us change these things as well.

Since all of us except babies and small children have ugly elbows, maybe we should just ignore them and get on with our lives. Did I mention that a high percentage of knees are not very comely either? ec

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

grits - 3


It is almost automatic when I prepare (or fix) grits – the ratio of water to grits is 4 to 1 – this is mixed together in the pot, brought to a boil and then allowed to simmer until the grits obtain the perfect consistency. This consistency preference varies from person to person and sometimes from making to making and day to day. For instance, a person would want thicker grits on Monday to start the week than they would prefer on Friday to finish things up.

I have never cared for thin, runny grits because beside the fact that the taste is just not the same, one has to fight to keep them from running off the plate. And I do not like to fight before breakfast - or during it - or even after, as a matter of fact. My preference is thick and robust, that way you can gently blend a couple of sunny side up eggs into them and the consistency is still acceptable. The best grits is when you mix them with eggs, chipped up bacon and Monterey Jack cheese (cut in strips), then allow the cheese to melt and then slowly experience this delightful joining together of tantalizing tastes.

There is an element of romance in grits as well. But for this the grits must be cooked a little longer and lumps allowed to form. Then as you and your sweetie sit, toes to toes, slowly savoring the essence, soul and even spirit of your grits, these delectable lumps can be compared and lovingly spoken about. There is much romance in the size, shape and consistency of these lumps and this can be a marvelous time of intimate sharing together. The romanticizing is not exactly right if there is only oatmeal, cream of wheat or some other gruel involved – even if these products have lumps it’s just not the same.

It is said that leftover grits can be sliced and fried. For that to happen an extra pot would have to be cooked because there are not any leftovers while I’m around – unless they are the instant kind. One exception would be that if enough grits for an army was prepared and only two or three soldiers showed up.

Although it is hard for me to fathom, grits may not be for everybody – but there is something else that is necessary for our health. I’m speaking of our spiritual health and that is maintained by the daily intake of God’s Word and the exercise of prayer. ec

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

grits - 2


>After high school graduation I did three years in the Army that was accomplished cold turkey without any grits at all except when I was home on leave. That somehow left a vague empty feeling down inside somewhere. I had bought and brought back a car (VW Beetle) from Europe, had it shipped back to New York and after I was discharged from the army, I drove it home from there, after delivering a buddy home to Ohio.

Arriving home at about 4:30am on that wonderful morning two days later and finding everyone still wanting to sleep, I went and found my brother – he had taken over my paper route – and chatted a while but got back home just in time for the long awaited huge breakfast. We had other things for the meal as well but it was the grits that let me know I was actually home.

That was then and this is now and though I have eaten grits for many years, they are not my normal, daily, breakfast fare at the present. Yes, they are still fixed (prepared) occasionally for breakfast but more often are eaten in the evening. At our house I am the usual one that prepares the grits and I don’t even have to have the prep instructions anymore. The spice of my life still works part time from home – medical transcription – and I usually do a large part of the cooking that we do – which is not a lot.

The brand name of the grits we have purchased for years is Jim Dandy quick grits in the 5-pound bag – is there really another brand? Even though I use “quick” grits, I do not believe in the instant kind and consider them to be imitation and fake – and besides that, not real grits and a pretense – kind of like wallpaper paste under an assumed name. In other words, I really don’t like the instant ones at all. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not slamming those who eat that product, I had just rather have the real thing. And I do realize that the instant ones are better than none at all.

We have one utensil that is dedicated to the cooking of grits. It is a tri-clad stainless steel pot that has been in the family in excess of 30 years and is perfect for the job. The reason I like stainless is that unlike aluminum it does not leave tiny particles of itself in the cooked food product. That’s a good thing because I do not like aluminum-flavored grits, whether you can taste it or not - even though I probably have gotten that a few times unknowingly in the past. ec

To be continued.

Monday, January 09, 2006

grits - 1

As the last few drops of the slightly gone-to-sugar honey dripped onto the large patty of real butter, it occurred to me that I had never written in depth about grits. Then the honey and butter was whipped by fork into a golden delicious frenzy and consumed by way of sopping it up with my morning bread. But even this delightful, sticky mass couldn’t take my mind off the aforementioned ground corn product – and yes, it comes from corn, not from a tree. The guy that wrote the romantic piece “Don’t sit under the grits tree with anyone else but me” was just spoofing.

The first mention of a grits-like product in the U. S. takes us back to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, when the Indians offered the newly arrived settlers a ground maize food item. But my association with grits doesn’t go back that far – not quite.

Being from the south and grits being a southern staple, I don’t remember the first time I consumed this food and it may well have been my first solid food. Grits were most always eaten at breakfast, sometimes at lunch (this used to be dinner for us) and many times at supper. The evening meal being called supper is scriptural - if Jesus ate supper in the evening, that’s good enough for me – even though I don’t think they had grits back then.

We moved to Augusta when I was in the third grade and somewhere during that time was when I started realizing how important grits were to me. When I turned 12, I was able to get a paper route not too far from home and from then until I graduated from high school my rising time was 4am every morning, 7 days a week. The route would always give me a huge appetite and Mom would have a big breakfast waiting before I went off an institute of higher learning – and this meal always included a lot of grits.

Let me state here – and I can hardly bear to even think about this sacrilege – that no sugar should ever come in contact with any grits product – even the instant ones!! To me this is the worst offense one could do against this noble corn product. I wouldn’t even treat my dog – which I don’t have – this way. Even though the cat – which I don’t have either – would probably enjoy seeing the dog that I don’t have getting sugar poured all over him/her. If salt and pepper, real butter, eggs, bacon and cheese don’t flavor the grits enough, just say no. ec

To be continued.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

rr - let down?

A good friend of mine wrote this and I found it very descriptive of the subject. ec

Always put God first, He'll never let you down. He may let you know you're not preferred, and your spiritual lapse has been noticed, and your self-centered split personality needs adjustment, and people you trust don't trust you, and people you don't trust seem to always depend on you, and then again, you might just have to find out on your own.

It's better if He let's you know, ahead of time, so you can foretell your catastrophes, but then, you might just take all the credit for being insightful. Not good - so put God first, and He'll never let you down. Even when it feels like He did, and when it looks like He did, and everybody tells you He did, and you think deep in your heart that maybe He did - He didn't.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

leftovers cuz - 2


We have quite a collection of leftover plastic bags – grocery and otherwise – around the home place. The uses we have for them are sometimes noble – like picking garden produce or even holding the results of our paper shredder. Some other uses for them are ignoble – like holding the grand babies’ poopy diapers. The supply (speaking of plastic bags not poopy diapers) ebbs and flows but at the moment it is flowing more than ebbing.

Once words are spoken, are they then considered leftovers? Somehow I don’t think so, at least not all, because some words have taken up at least semi-permanent residence in the ears and minds of most of us. It seems that the bad things spoken to and about us hang around the longest, wounding and marring the psyche for years. Could it be that the bad words are easier for us to believe, or is it that the hurtful stuff is all we listen for, to verify what we feel about ourselves anyway?

Keeping and cataloging these bad words is somewhat akin to keeping a cluster of sandspurs inside your clothing next to the skin. Both of these actions are choice related and neither is very smart. Whatever we believe needs to line up with God’s Word, like “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.

Just in case you didn’t know what sandspurs are, they are grassy weeds that produce an upright stem with a cluster of “seeds” on the end. These “seeds” are in the form of a burr with many sharp points, especially so in the late summer and fall. Growing up, some of us guys would have sandspur wars – the stem would be 8 to 10 inches long and with the burrs on the end, was quite a painful throwing weapon. And they thought we didn’t have violence before TV. :) The results could be very uncomfortable if one of these caught you in the middle of the back in a thin shirt. There was a bit of leftover pain involved.

Here is a leftover, wandering thought – does the joy of the Lord bring praise or vice versa? Joy is a noun but don’t forget it’s also a verb, but if we want to keep joy a noun, we can use its cousin, rejoice as the action word. Is it not then praise when we rejoice? So if rejoicing is the action form of joy and rejoicing is also praise, it stands to reason that praise is not only the bringer of more joy, but also the intensifier of what God has already supplied. We do not need to ever have any leftover praise hanging around – give it all to God!! ec

Friday, January 06, 2006

leftovers cuz

Most every human has quirks, eccentricities, peculiarities and idiosyncrasies somewhere in their daily lives. Being mostly human, I also have some of these – I’ll just call mine quirks since that’s easier to spell. One biggie of mine is being almost unable to throw away any leftover lumber, plywood, trim, etc. – until it gets too small or broken to use. Some of the aforementioned pieces date from when this house was built 25 years ago.

But it doesn’t stop there; I also save leftover hardware – screws, bolts and nuts, washers, nails, brads and staples. I know that someday I will use these leftovers so they are stored away in containers in my workshop. My Dad was from the old school and saved any used (even rusty and bent) nails as well – he would go through and straighten them before use – I had the bent-nail keeping syndrome earlier in life, but finally overcame it.

An unintended collection of leftover PVC joints, splices and connections rests in a small plastic hospital tub (leftover also), these from small plumbing jobs over the years. Then there is wire I have saved – mostly electrical, left from the very useful hobby of doing my own electrical work – but then there is also any other type that I happen across. I don’t think I have any of the proverbial baling wire, but most every other kind. Maybe this is from a long career of working with wire – or maybe it’s just a quirk.

Back last winter I dug up and transplanted shoots growing from my existing blueberry bushes – leftover plants. 19 of these were planted where I dug up 5 muscadine vines – this on the bedroom end of the house. These vines were removed because I seem to have developed an allergy to the grapes thereof – makes my mouth a bit raw. There are still 7 of the vines left on the garage end of the yard. It will take a couple of years to get the blueberry bushes established and producing, but their only cost was the effort to plant them.

Speaking of blueberries, I don’t ever have any leftovers of them. They are picked and either eaten fresh or frozen and special plans are made for these. Not to say that I write on the outside of the bags (other than the date they are frozen) what that particular bag will be used for – but there is a special plan for the use of each bag – consumption!! They are eaten in conjunction with vanilla ice cream, baked into a cobbler, made into “blueberries in the snow” or just eaten in their little round icy forms, straight from the freezer. Hope they will last until this year’s crop comes in! ec

To be continued.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

son of leftovers - 2

Sports-wise, I have too many leftover months between the last college football bowl game (sniff) and the first gridiron contest in the fall. The super bowl is not even to my liking – just not the same as college to me. Basketball is a non-event to my way of thinking – college or pro – I think I’d rather trim my toenails. I will watch baseball a bit – if I’m recovering from an injury or illness – and my remote is broken. I enjoy track and field events, but they are few and far between. A replacement sport is needed – do they play tiddlywinks any more?

My career with Southern Bell/BellSouth lasted almost 38 years and during the last 10 or 15 years we were required to wear uniform work clothes. We were told to not wear these out in public after retirement since on them is emblazoned the company logo, we cannot give them to anyone for the same reason. These are leftover clothes and are worn around the house and to work in the yard – on a couple of the jackets the logos have been blacked out and they have been worn locally on everyday jaunts – kind of got used to them.

One thing is for sure, if I ever have to work out in the yard during a blizzard, I will have the clothing for it. Of course, the chances of us having a blizzard around here are pretty slim and the chances of me working out in the yard in that kind of weather are even slimmer. It’s a funny thing though, the jackets and shirts all still seem to fit very well, but the waist of the pants are getting a bit snug – faulty material I guess.

As I go about my everyday life I don’t notice a lot of leftover joy in others, in fact, most don’t have nearly enough and some could even be considered joyless. The meaning of the word joyless seems a bit uncertain to me – I’m not sure if it means that the ones identified as such just don’t have enough or if they are into deficit joy. Some might have to stand outside in a downpour of joy for two days to come up with just a tad of glad.

I’m just weird enough that when somebody tells me I can have something really good – like joy – I just have to say, OK, sign me up – especially when the message comes from somebody that I believe and trust – like God. ec

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

son of leftovers - 1

In my excursions through the dictionary, I stumble, trip and sometimes fall over odd words and those that are no longer in common usage. These words I find and don’t use right away are written down for later possible use – leftover words. One of these is the word “rogue” – not so odd until one thinks that it once described people of low morals and character, then it seemed to shift to animals – like a rogue elephant – then once again it has changed and people speak of rogue nations.

Another of the leftovers is “varlet” – it just doesn’t seem to be used any more. Also the word “knave” – these words have a similar definitions, yet this one is not used either. Their non-usage is probably a good thing - too many rap groups would be fighting to use them in - or as - their name. But then a name like the Knavish Varlets might not be pernicious enough – and maybe even sound too benignant. Aren’t leftovers fun?

Did you know that the words varia, gallimaufry, salmagundi, pastiche and mélange have the same basic meaning – albeit in different areas of life. They all mean a hodgepodge or miscellany – maybe even odds and ends. Woebegone seems to be falling from usage – how many times have you heard it used this week? Unless it was in the descriptions of that fictional (?) lake in Minnesota, spoken about by the guy on public radio – I think he lives on the left coast of that body of water.

One of the meanings of the word unction is something soothing or comforting. Could the word also mean the condition of being an uncle? This wouldn’t take into consideration those that were of a grumpy persuasion. Ever notice that grumpy people seem to always have something to blame that condition on? I guess they don’t know that they have a choice as to whether they are that way or not.

Here’s a leftover thought. I wonder what happens to all the blessings that God supplies if we don’t take them and make them a part of our life? Are they stored away somewhere - Good Will maybe? ec

To be continued.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

mo leftovers - 2


Here are a couple of quotes I ran across on the way to something else: “He is never less at leisure than when at leisure.” And “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” Both sound modern but were written by Marcus Tullius Cicero – he lived from 106BC to 43BC. I glanced through some of his speeches but didn’t get much out of them – they were in Latin and were Greek to me.

Then there are the Latin words: veni, vidi, vici – the translation for that would be – I came, I saw, I conquered my vice – possibly. It seems to me that the word oxymoron should refer to a large bovine that is not very smart. From the dictionary - and possibly from writing style – I know that the word verbiage means an overabundance of words as in writing or speech, but I’ve never heard anyone at or above my reading level use the word videlicet - - - strange, huh?

Then there are odd, leftover thoughts that come to mind from time to time. Like – exactly how much is a pinch of something – this consternation comes from recipes that call for a pinch of salt or baking soda. Wouldn’t the actual amount vary from person to person and depend on several things, like: the size of the cook’s fingers, the amount the pinched substance can be compacted, the stuff’s adhesiveness to itself and even the moisture content of the pinching fingers. No wonder it takes years to be a chef – it’s because of all these inexact and difficult questions to deal with – also what to do with the leftovers.

There are leftovers that can be allowed to spoil a person’s peace of mind and even ruin their whole life. These would be the leftover hard feelings from past hurts. A spirit of revenge can even raise its ugly head. The holding of grudges and bad feelings mostly just hurts the ones that hold them. All that can really make things right is simply to forgive the one that has hurt us – make things right as much as it depends on you – but if that’s not possible, just forgive them. Didn’t say it was easy, but with God’s help it can be done. ec

Monday, January 02, 2006

mo leftovers - 1

There are many leftovers around us everyday in many different categories. In the course of writing, I find that I have many leftover words, phrases and even verses that didn’t fit in the subject of the moment and I keep them scattered and lurking about on odd pieces of paper around my computer. This in hopes that someday they will fit somewhere and can be of use. Well – now is the time! This will be a miscellaneous, odds and ends missive and one paragraph may not relate at all to the next except in the fact that it was written by me.

An interest of mine is history, particularly that concerning World War 2 and more particularly the first hand accounts written by the person involved. There are many of these on the internet and they take the form of a journal, or letters written back and forth from battlefield to home and accounts written from memory. In the reading of one account, by a soldier from the South Pacific, I found this odd little verse that he included in one of his letters to his sweetheart back home. This man was college educated and the rest of his writings indicated as much, so I don’t know if he was the actual composer or not. The date of the original letter was circa 1943.

I want to be where you is
instead of where I be
for when I are where you are not
that ain’t no place to be.

I used to think the world was great
but now it has a taint
for I have gone where you is not
and left you where I ain’t.

Also in some of these writings I ran across a couple of acronyms that came into being in that time period. The first is SNAFU – the cleaned up civilian definition is “situation normal all fouled up”. The second was FUBAR – again this is civilianized – “fouled up beyond all recognition”. The first of these I have heard many times – the second I had forgotten. They were both used to describe the method of operation of things in the military. ec

To be continued.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

The calendar identifies today as the first day of a new year but you may feel like it is just the same old same old. It will be exactly that if you are stuck with the same attitudes and unforgiven trespasses that were weighing you down when the calendar said it was last year.

Why not start the New Year right with a Friend that will give you a totally new start. He is able to forgive any wrong you have ever done and even be with you as advisor for the rest of your life if you will only ask Him. If you make mistakes, He will forgive those as well - without slamming you for it. Listen to what the Word says:

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 NIV

Jesus has been my best Friend for over 43 years now and I highly recommend Him to you. Give Him a chance to make this a truly Happy New Year. ec